Thursday, June 10, 2010

Having My Cake and Airplanes Too- A Birthday Post

Today is my birthday.

As the weeks zoomed by through April then May, there were mornings that I woke up and wondered if I'd missed it altogether. The best part is that I could always identify the next closest thing to look forward to and just brushed right past it. This has not been a year short on adventuring. Given everything else in play, today is but a happy benchmark.

Even today, I know that tomorrow I'll start my trek toward Mississippi to celebrate the wedding of a very old friend. Exactly five years after the wedding of another friend within the same set.

Five years ago I was freshly home from the-adventure-to-which-all-others-are-compared: three weeks in southern France and northern Italy with Molly. I had a heart still very freshly broken but it had taken on a defiant limp toward a new life in a big city (at this point I thought that city would be Boston). I saw it all working out perfectly. I was moving to the city, getting a job in PR, getting a cat, hosting several dinner parties and would generally become a totally sexy jetsetter.

For all the things I couldn't have known then, (subjective/overtly optimistic self-projection aside- in my head all "jetsetters" looked like Penelope Cruz/A. Jolie hybrids), I wasn't that far off. In the last year: 42 airplanes, 10 states, six west coast expeditions, three trips into LAX, three trips into LGA, two city crushes and one pretty fantastic long weekend in Italy.

It hasn't all been cake but the odd bitter pill makes the frosting taste a little sweeter on days like this. I'm grateful.
I think I feel my age today. It sounds strange to say it out loud but I can't remember a birthday when that wasn't the case. I have a lot to learn and become a little more open to just how deep the "things I don't know" bucket actually is by the year. That's also how I know I'm not 22 anymore. At 22, I had the whole thing figured out. At 27, I don't and I like it that way.

27th Birthday Cake: Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake (yes, you read that right)

Adapted from Bon Appetit


  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 cups boiling water
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups mayonnaise (do not use reduced-fat or fat-free)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract



  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour three 8-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Combine chopped chocolate and cocoa powder in medium metal bowl. Add 13/4 cups boiling water and whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
  • Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder into another medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat both sugars and mayonnaise in large bowl until well blended, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with chocolate mixture in 3 additions, beating until blended after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Divide batter among prepared cake pans.
  • Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 30 to 32 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 20 minutes.
  • Run small knife around sides of cakes to loosen. Carefully invert cakes onto racks and let cool completely.


  • Place chopped chocolate in medium metal bowl; set bowl over saucepan of simmering water and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Carefully remove bowl from over water; let melted chocolate cool until lukewarm, stirring occasionally.
  • Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth and creamy. Sift powdered sugar over butter and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Add melted chocolate and beat until well blended and smooth, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl.
  • Place 1 cake layer on platter. Spread frosting over top of cake layer to edges. Top with second cake layer. Spread remaining frosting decoratively over top and sides of cake.


Molly McGuffin said...

woot woot yeah yeah! bonne anniversaire! and holy shit, i can't believe that trip was 5 years ago!!!

Kelly said...

I love your post! I couldn't relate more completely. I love the line of having it all figured out at 22 and not at 27. I will admit it has taken me so long to come to grips with that because I love feeling like I know everything but I'm trying to be better at going with the flow.

maren said...

Happy Birthday! I hope you have a wonderful day!

RE: the cake. It looks very good, can you taste the mayonnaise?

Laura said...

Happy Birthday! :) that looks soo tasty! :)

Janine said...

Happy birthday, Jessi. Looks like the best cake ever!

Jessica (Bayjb) said...

Cake looks delish. I love the decorations! I need to take a cake cooking class with you :)

jackie fo said...

Happpppppy Birthday!! Love your rustic looking cake. looks delish and i'm sure it was

thegirls said...

I'm still wishing you moved to Boston.... Maybe someday :)

Happy birthday!! That cake looks fabulous and I hope there's more where that came from!


joner said...

This may be my favorite post of yours... ever. Heading to Boston on Saturday morning with little Jones - we'll toast to you and our summer birthdays. Bonne Anniversaire, mon amie!

Maris said...

I love this post! Happy birthday!

TKTC said...

Molly McGuff- You are simply the best. And yes, it's a stark comparison of now and then!

Kelly- I'm with you on the control side. The balance between laissez faire and just flying by the seat of my pants is a little tricky. At least there's been enough trial and error at this point to buffer.

Maren- It was a wonderful day...highly recommend that magic cake. You can't taste the mayonnaise at all, it just makes for a moist crumb.

Laura- Hard to argue with chocolate cake and a glass of milk right?

Janine- Thanks:) It was pretty delicious if I say so myself.

Bayjb- Frosting, sprinkles, done. That's seriously as far as decor got. But you're welcome to have a slice anytime!

Jackie Fo- A lovely compliment from the party-planner extraordinaire- thank you!

The Girls- Oh how different it would all have been if I'd ended up in Boston. I could have been in that little city and we still may never have met!

Joner- Wow! That is some serious sweetness right there:) Enjoy Boston, I highly recommend South End Buttery for lunch and Torro for dinner...two of brother's favorites!

Maris- Thanks, lady:) We need a wine date on the calendar...

Nora said...

Happy Birthday!

And, er, mayo cake? I'll take your word for it! I do like sour cream in cake so ... why not?

nicole antoinette said...

THAT CAKE. Wow, so perfect. Like everything you post. Hope you had a wonderful, wonderful day.

Linda said...

Happy 27th!!!

Anonymous said...

a truly lovely post! -Shannon

Anonymous said...

That cake looks delicious. Have you ever had the chocolate cake at Portillo's? If not, you should! They use mayo as well. I think it's what really makes it special.

Freckle on the Nose said...

Happy belated birthday! I think my favorite picture is the one of the cake and the cat ears in the background (this coming from a self-professed cat lady).